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Reflect on readings March 1

1st Sunday in Lent

Text of the readings
Reflect on readings February 15 or Transfiguration Sunday
All reflections at Category: Lectionary

Genesis 9:8-1

The Hebrew people were terrified of water. The psalms, for example, are full of water as a metaphor for danger. Whilst being a nation on the Mediterranean coast, they only had a navy under King Solomon. The story of the exile, with the destruction of all and the return of a small, faithful remnant to start afresh is well retold using an ancient flood story. God has been shooting the arrows of his flood at his people. Now God hangs up his bow in the clouds.

Psalm 25:1-10

1 Peter 3:18-22

Verses 18 and 22 appear to come from a hymn or creed.

Verses 19-21 requires familiarity with the Book of Enoch. This book is quoted in  Jude 1:14-15 and by many Church Fathers. It is held to be part of the Bible by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Genesis 6:1-2 reads: “When people began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that they were fair; and they took wives for themselves of all that they chose.” In Enoch’s understanding, the sinning angels had intercourse with humans who gave birth to giants. This sets up the original sin punished by the flood. God eternally imprisons the angels who continue to encourage sin on earth. Enoch (Genesis 5:21-24) is taken up into heaven where he tells the angels that they will be imprisoned (1 Enoch 6-21). In today’s text Jesus is another Enoch.

Mark 1:9-15

Jesus has left the safety of his kinship group and will establish another form of kinship group. Joining John the baptiser, Jesus has an experience of altered state of consciousness (cf. Psalm 2:7; Isaiah 42:1). The Mediterranean reader of Mark, the first and here simplest Gospel account of the Temptations, would see the honour ascribed to Jesus at his baptism inevitably lead to that honour being tested. Honour requires acknowledgement by others – as there is no such acknowledgement within the story, the readers of Mark’s text are challenged to grant Jesus this honour.

John is Jesus’ mentor (cf. John 3:22; 4:2). Jesus picks up the leadership of John’s movement and transforms it when John is arrested. Jesus, of course, attracts followers to himself, posing a dilemma for John and John’s disciples (cf. Luke 7:18-23). This longer process is telescoped into todays summary. “Believe” is not to be understood as a merely mental excercise. It is be loyal to, be commited to.

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Don’t forget: each week I also publish a reflection on the collect/opening prayer.

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4 thoughts on “Reflect on readings March 1”

  1. re: Gospel — I have been thinking about Jesus being “driven” into the wilderness by the Spirit (of course this makes me remember the old joke – what would Jesus drive? A Honda because he and the disciples were all in one Accord). But seriously — what life events drive us into wilderness – what do we find there? what are the temptations? what are the beasts? the angels?

  2. I have to chuckle at a spirit that descends down like a dove, when I think about the local doves here.

    For a bird of peace, NE Missouri doves, when in groups, can be pretty aggressive. I once had a blue jay who commandeered my bird feeder and got three or four doves angry. They came at him with the bum rush and sent Mr. Bluejay packing!

    So that reminds me at times, the Holy Spirit descending on you might feel more like an attack!

  3. This affirm/test/restore pattern is very much a part of all of our Journeys:
    Ordination, the first parish, an appointment as Rural Dean or Archdeacon, and certainly Episcopal Ordination.
    Although we tend to retreat beforehand and then hit the tarmac with the wheels running. Perhaps we should re-order things and have our retreats after the public affirmations?

  4. I have been struck all week by the contrast between the Genesis reading and the Gospel reading. Genesis goes on and on and repeats over and over. Mark sounds like an abbreviated Readers’ Digest!! As a former teacher (are we ever really “former” teachers?!?) I am thinking about pointing out how often we sit and repeat ourselves (a la Genesis) when what we really need to do is get down to the basics, decide whether or not we believe them, and then get to work!

    Blessings on your weekend!

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